Tough Times

Tough times don’t last. But sometimes they do.  What happens then? Are you willing to tough it out? Or will you give up and run in the other direction? But what if God says stay put. You’re right where I want you. You have no reason to run. I’ve allowed for this season to fall on you. And I’ll lift it when the time comes. Until then, trust me.

I mean. Look at Job. His trials lasted for years. And he lost everything. Family. Home. Wealth. He had nothing but his wife and friends who gave him bad advice. Yet his faith in God never wavered. He never turned his back on God. Oh. He questioned why terrible things were happening. And he wondered when they would end. But he kept his eyes on God.

Do you actually trust God? Or do you trust yourself? Are your words always perfectly timed? Are your actions trustworthy? Are your motives pure? You aren’t God. And you know it. So stop acting as if you are.

The God who created the earth in seven days can soothe your aching heart. The God who closed the mouths of the lions can close the mouths of those who speak insults against you. The God who healed the blind man and the lame man can make you whole again. The God who opened barren wombs can heal your broken body. The God who removed the evil spirits from the beggar can heal your anxiety and fears. The God who has taken can also provide.

But what if he doesn’t? What if your enemies continue to speak falsely against you? What if your situation is never made whole? What if your broken body doesn’t mend? What if your anxious thoughts never calm? What if your ship never comes in? What if your tough time becomes a way of life?


The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalms 23:1-6


She has an upcoming medical procedure. Uncertainty looms. Outcome to be determined. Fear. Anxiety. What ifs. Unknowns. Life has been good. But now. What if it isn’t? Can her faith hold her through an uncertain future? Will God be enough for her if the diagnosis is disturbing?

Someone else has had a diagnosis. A diagnosis that’s unfamiliar. Yet vaguely relieving. So now she knows what she faces. But others may view her with uncertainty. If they knew. Now she must face a path of healing that will be hard. It will take hard consistent work to regain what was lost. Can she walk that path and do the work necessary to find freedom and wholeness? Can she trust God when at times it has felt that he was far away?

Is God enough if he is all you have? When life throws a curve ball. When authorities make decisions that change the course of your life. When there’s no turning back. Is God enough for you?

God isn’t an emergency room to visit only during a crisis. God is an everyday celebration. A giver of life and a taker of it. He rules the universe. We live at his command. Only thing is. Some people don’t bow down to him. They run or stumble through life on their own power, just to find at the end, they’re lost. They’ve lived lost and it’s too late to be found. It’s only too late once the last breath has been taken. And then eternity has begun and there’s no going back. No. Going. Back.

God is enough. Even during the tough times. Even when all hope seems lost. Even when life has permanently changed. When there’s no going back. When future plans are forever altered. God’s love is still true. God’s plan is still perfect. He will see you through.

The Story of Jesus

I love old hymns. I remember singing hymns at church on Sunday mornings. Sunday evenings. Wednesday evenings. Yeah. It was a lot of church. But I learned the stories of Jesus at church. and at home. I’m not sorry about that.

One of the old hymns that has been rolling around in my head for the past week talks about the stories of Jesus.

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth,
“Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.”

Refrain:
Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word;
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.

Fasting alone in the desert,
Tell of the days that are past,
How for our sins He was tempted,
Yet was triumphant at last.
Tell of the years of His labor,
Tell of the sorrow He bore;
He was despised and afflicted,
Homeless, rejected and poor.

Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in anguish and pain;
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He liveth again.
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see;
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
“Love paid the ransom for me.”

Tell how He’s gone back to heaven,
Up to the right hand of God:
How He is there interceding
While on this earth we must trod.
Tell of the sweet Holy Spirit
He has poured out from above;
Tell how He’s coming in glory
For all the saints of His love.

The words of this hymn written by Fanny Crosby ring true. They’re taken straight from Scripture. They tell the story of Jesus. His life. His ministry. His suffering. His death. His resurrection. They are the message of God’s plan for all mankind.


I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalms 119:11


I read the Bible. I know the Bible stories. I have heard them since childhood. Oh. How I cherish those stories. But to know them and to live them is two different things. I find that I still struggle with using my words instead of God’s words. I find that I still want my way when it’s the easier way. I find that to truly live God’s way is a tough road to walk. But I know the tough road is much more fulfilling. It’s leading to eternal life even when the walk is hard. Even when mistakes are made. and unkind words are said. The story of Jesus is one of forgiveness and mercy and grace and kindness. His love is never ending. That’s what I need.

Oh. I may never perform a miracle. I may never fast in a desert. I may never be nailed to a cross. I may never be raised from the dead. But I do plan to see Jesus someday. I plan to meet him face to face. I plan to go to heaven when I have finished the race. I plan to walk on streets of gold. I will stand face to face with God to give an account of my life.

So this story of Jesus rings true to me. I trust that every word is true. I believe it for my life. This story never grows old.

The Called

They have been asked to give their lives to serve God. They have answered the call. They will lead others to follow Christ. They will preach sermons. They will lead board meetings. They will pray with those in need. They will counsel people at their lowest moments. They will serve others in ways no one knows.

They work many hours that no one sees. They are on call at all hours of the day and night. They conduct funerals and officiate at weddings. They are a part of the saddest and happiest moments of others’ lives.

Their life and that of their family is on full display to be approved or criticized, as others see fit. They’re expected to have perfect marriages and well-behaved children. It’s assumed that they handle their personal lives and finances without flaw.

They are unlicensed counselors who hear the most private life situations for a family or marriage in crisis. Everything they hear in counseling sessions must be kept private. They are expected to keep all conversations confidential.

They are human. They make mistakes. They do not live perfect lives. And when their lives are falling apart. When their marriage is hanging by a thread. When their child is the one who’s gone astray. Who do they call? Who do they trust to keep their messy lives out of the news? Who do they call in the middle of the night when hope seems lost?

When they have a moment of panic.  When they have an unconfessed sin.  When they have a hidden addiction.  When they have a raw diagnosis.  When they need wise counsel. Who do they have on speed dial?  Who can they trust with their darkest moments?  


Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. Hebrews 13:17


We expect them to know the Bible inside and out. Can they quote just the right Scripture when we need it? Can they give the most godly advice at the right time? If their sermon doesn’t hold your attention or if it rubs you the wrong way, do you stop attending church? Do you demand they run the church your way or else?

We must hope and pray that they are following God’s leading. We must trust that their relationship with God is their top priority. Above all else, they must lead the church as God leads them. Sure. They’re human. They mess up. Unless there’s evidence of wrongdoing on their part, we must trust that they are allowing God to guide them.

The thing is. We’re all called. We’re all human. But we hold them to a higher standard. They’re human, too. They make mistakes. They mess up. They’re working on their salvation one day at a time. Just like everyone else. 

Some are called to be shepherds. Some are administrators. Some are strategic thinkers and planners. Some are prayer warriors. Others are eloquent speakers. Still others offer solid teaching. And some offer wise counsel. But all are called. All are gifted. All are flawed.

What if we spent time praying for them each day. What if we spent time getting to know them. Getting to know their heart as they follow God. Getting to know their strengths and weaknesses. What if we truly trusted them to lead the church as God is leading them. What if we trusted them?

Let’s show them grace.  and trust.  and offer forgiveness.  Let’s hold them accountable.  But let’s let them lead. God will hold them accountable for their lives and their leadership. Let’s trust God.

Good and Kind

Her name is Rosie. She is a 102 pound Mastiff/Lab mix. Yes. She’s a dog. A big dog. A good dog. A gentle dog. She’s a rescue. She has a checkered past due to no fault of her own. She feels very secure with who she is. She stands up for herself. She loves her people. She protects her people.

When she is at the dog park, she loves all the dogs and wants to run and play with them. She actually likes to chase the dogs who are chasing the balls. She runs to the gate to greet anyone who enters the park. She stands up for herself when other dogs are aggressive. She lets them know that she won’t be bullied. But she always has her eye on her people. She needs to know that they are there waiting for her. But she avoids them when they’re ready to leave, because she is never ready to leave.

When Rosie is in the yard at home, she feels responsible to protect her turf. She isn’t happy with the neighbor dogs walking on her sidewalk. They’re encroaching on her property and that shouldn’t happen. According to Rosie. When she is in the house, she sits in her chair and watches the activity in the front yard. She barks out a warning if anyone is invading her space. At times she jumps on the window to make sure the potential invaders know this isn’t a safe space for them.

Since Rosie has a habit of lunging for passersby on the sidewalk, I’ve taken to given her instructions before we walk out the front door. Once her leash is on, we stop at the door for a second to slow down and relax. I want Rosie to remember to treat others with respect. I want her to know that the neighbors and their pets aren’t trying to cause trouble for her. They are just passing by. Each time we walk out the door, I give her the same command. Let’s be good. Let’s be kind. I do that in hopes that she will be good and kind to those she may run into.


Do to others as you would like them to do to you. Luke 6:31


I think about how I treat others. Do I attempt to protect my turf at all costs? Do I warn others to back off if they get too close? In the name of safety, do I keep people at arms length? Do I build that invisible wall when others try to get too close? What am I afraid of?

If I were other people, would I like the way I treat them? Sometimes my bite may be worse than my bark. And sometimes my bark is downright brutal. Is it intentional? Do I think before I speak? Do I act without considering how the other person will feel?

I like to think that I’m comfortable in my own skin. So why do I get offended easily? Can I accept the same type of criticism that so easily flies out of my mouth? I wonder if others see me as kind and thoughtful. Or do they see me as the one who speaks before she thinks.

It’s natural to want to be treated kindly. One would think it is natural to treat others kindly in return. Not so. Feelings get hurt. Conversations get interrupted. Drivers are in a hurry or they’re too slow. That one coworker sits too close and talks too loud. Are we ever really happy?

Grace is a thing I’m learning. To stop and look a little closer at the situation. Perhaps the other person just received bad news and is in a hurry for all the right reasons. Perhaps the information I’ve been given is for my ears only. Perhaps my words were more offensive than I expected or planned. Perhaps I need to step back and slow down before I enter the world each morning. Perhaps I need to stop and remind myself of the command I give Rosie.

Let’s be good. Let’s be kind.